A/N: Hello again, happy Death Note folks! I have returned – amazingly quickly – after finishing my last fic to bring you something a little different. No, this one was not on the list of fics I was working on, it's actually just a random idea that hit me while thinking over the different hobbies/addictions the Death Note characters have. For those who are waiting for the promised fics, don't worry, they'll be arriving soon(ish).
So, here you are. Random, and I think a little crack-y. (By the way, there's no pairing intended… seriously.) Nerdy points to the folks who can name the two RPG's I do not put a name to!
Disclaimer: sigh… I don't own Death Note… I tried, and failed. (pout)
Part One, "RPG"
Matt sighed and ran a hand through his red hair, frustrated. He wasn't sure why he had thought this would be a good idea. There was every reason to think that it was a crack idea at best.
Mello was out for the day, something about a shopping trip for chocolate, or maybe it was a movie – Matt hadn't been paying attention – which left Matt pretty much on his own for the day. Normally that wouldn't even faze the redhead, he would just engross himself in one of his many, many videogames for the day. Except for the minor detail of all said games being confiscated by Roger as punishment for an incident involving a blow dryer the day before. That had been Mello's fault, but Matt was the one who got caught, of course. So, with no videogames to distract him, and Mello gone, Matt had wandered around the orphanage in search of entertainment. He could have spent the day studying… but no, screw that.
He'd been to the games room – a slightly masochistic move on his part – to check out the air hockey table and basket shoot. Those proved to be a little too mindless. He thought about going outside for real basketball or soccer, but it was raining, and no one else wanted to get soaked. A trip to the TV room was useless as well. Matt found himself flicking his thumbs at the people on the screen, trying to get them to turn and fight each other. He was sure that female news reporter could K.O. the weatherman.
Frustrated, Matt wandered to one of the quieter common rooms and flopped onto an empty sofa. The whole room appeared empty, in fact, until Matt noticed a very quiet clicking noise coming from behind the sofa. It turned out to be Near, Wammy's most likely candidate as successor to L, carefully stacking dice into a little fortress. With nothing better to do, Matt draped himself over the back of the couch, ankles hooked together and head resting on his hands, to watch the albino take his ivory creation higher and higher. If Near minded the attention, he never voiced it, never even showed that he noticed Matt observing him.
So Matt watched until Near finished his project; or rather, until he ran out of dice. He probably wouldn't have stopped, otherwise. Matt grunted when the last die was set in its place at the very top. "That's pretty good, Near."
The boy didn't jump when Matt finally spoke. Instead, he turned and looked at him with his usual blank expression, a hand up to his hair, twirling it. "Thank you," he'd replied quietly. The agate eyes had flicked from side to side quickly. "Mello does not accompany Matt today?"
Matt smiled. "Don't worry. The overly emotional chocoholic is out for the day. Your masterpiece is safe."
Near nodded, face still blank, but Matt knew he had to have been relieved. Mello was always happy to destroy what took Near hours to make. It seemed to make himself feel better, somehow. "Why does Matt not play his games?"
"Got curtailed yesterday," he replied with a grimace.
"The blow dryer?"
"That'd be the one."
Near tilted his head. It was probably the closest thing to an expression Matt had ever seen him have, but it didn't really count. Head tilting could just mean his neck hurt. "What does Matt plan to do with his day?"
Matt shifted on the back of the sofa. It wasn't the most comfortable place to lie in the world. "I dunno," he said. "I was just kinda wandering around."
Near nodded again and fell silent, still twirling his hair, and turned back to examine his miniature fortress. Matt looked at it too, since it was the most interesting thing in the room. Near was really good at his hobby, the whole thing was about two feet high, and same square, and somehow he'd managed to incorporate a couple of arches without sending the whole thing tumbling down. It wasn't just dice he used, either, the kid would use anything: matches, dominoes, cards, books… Matt had even seen him use cereal boxes once. Anything that could be gotten in quantity and were fairly uniform in size and shape was fair game for the little albino's games.
Games… God, Matt wanted his videogames back! Near wasn't bad company, but he needed to blow something up, or stomp a goomba, or something… He looked at Near again, who seemed to be counting the dice, or their spots. Did Near ever play games? He played by himself often enough, with his toys or his stacking, but did he ever play an actual game? Matt didn't think so.
If he still had access to his consoles, Matt would have been tempted to share with the reclusive boy and see how he did with something a little more interactive. His hand-to-eye coordination was obviously excellent, but he might have more trouble with anything that required quick reflexes… or that had a lot of gore. For some reason, he couldn't see Near as being the type to really get into something like God of War or Dead Rising. The point was moot, though, since he didn't have his games.
Thinking about games, and watching Near begin to remodel his castle, was when Matt had his crack idea: "Hey, Near. You want to play a game?"
So here they were, the redhead and the albino, sitting across from one another at a dusty table in one of the orphanage attics. It was the only place they had been able to find a sizable supply of old fashioned role-playing games and dice. Apparently it had been awhile since any of the children at Wammy's had really gotten into the classic RPG's. Matt wouldn't have bothered with them, except there was no alternative and they seemed a nice mid-step between his usual kind of game and Near's quieter play.
Except it was proving to be far more involved a project than Matt had thought it would be. He'd played plenty of RPG's before, on his consoles, where everything was calculated for you. What he had in front of him looked a lot more like work than play.
"Okay…" he said slowly, looking through the first book in the stack. It was one of the oldest, so he hoped that also meant it was one of the simplest. "Says here, the first step is to figure out the eight attributes of our characters. Those are I.Q., mental endurance, mental affinity, physical strength, physical prowess, physical endurance, physical beauty, and speed."
Near, who was playing which some character miniatures meant for a tabletop style game, looked up. "How are those determined?"
"Ah… with three d6's." He spilled out the bag that held the gaming dice onto the table and plucked out three of the six-sided ones. All the dice were black with white pips, which looked like they were painted in with glow-in-the-dark paint. Someone had certainly loved their RPG's at Wammy's at some time, anyway.
The younger boy picked up one of the other dies, "This does not look like a die," he said.
Matt looked and almost snorted. "That's a d4, Near. Four-sided die. They've all got a different number of sides, and depending on what you're rolling for, you roll different dice."
Near continued to stare at the tetrahedron as though it offended him, and then did the same with the d8's, d12's, and d20's. The d4 seemed to be giving him the most trouble, though; he kept coming back to it like it would magically gain more sides if he looked often enough. Matt smiled at his confusion. It was kind of cute the way he almost glared at them.
"Okay," Matt said, returning to the book. "Go ahead and roll for your I.Q… Oh, wait. The number of dice you use can change depending on your race. Guess we better pick that first." Why didn't the people who wrote this thing order their steps properly?
Near looked up again, holding a d20 in one hand and a d12 in the other. "Why should a person's skin color change one's attributes? That seems a very racist attitude for a game."
"Ah," Matt stumbled. "Maybe it would be more accurate to say 'species' than race. It's a fantasy game, you don't have to be a human."
"What other species are there?"
Matt flipped to the back of the book. They really needed to arrange these things better. "Lessee… human – obviously – elf, dwarf, and gnome, those are all pretty standard. Then you got troglodytes, kobolds, goblins, hobgoblins, orcs, ogres, and trolls, your basic baddies. Then there are the in-betweens, the changelings, wolfen, and coyles. They've all got pros and cons to them for play, so we might want to read them."
Near stared at the gamer, midway through trying to stack two of the oddly shaped dice. "Then after race has been decided, we roll for attributes?"
"Is that all?"
"Uh, no." He flipped back to the front of the book. "Then we decide on a character occupation—"
"Out of how many?"
Matt looked at the list and decided to summarize: "A lot."
The d12 was precariously balanced atop the d20. "And then?"
"Then… then we figure out our hit points, psionic powers, equipment, and character backgrounds."
The dice fell over as the d4 was settling into place. Apparently deciding it wasn't worth the effort, Near returned to twiddling his hair, hugging his raised knee closer to his chest with the other hand. "And all of this is merely preparation before the game starts?"
"Uhh… yeah…" Now that they were here, it really did seem like a crack idea. He looked at Near, who just stared back, twirling his hair. Matt clucked his tongue. "You're absolutely right," he said, and tossed the book into a far corner, along with three other supporting books to the same game. Anything that took more than an hour to set up before you could even play was too much work to be considered fun.
He started shifting through the pile of games they had found. Let's see, Rifts, same problem as the first game, as well as Call of Cthulhu… He picked up a black box with red lettering. "Frag…?"
"Is it simpler?"
Matt turned the box over and read the description. "Looks like it… looks like a tabletop game, kind of. You run around trying to kill all the other players, and if you're killed you re-spawn somewhere and try to kill them back. First one with three kills wins."
Near looked blanker than usual. The hand stopped twirling. "Re-spawn?"
It wasn't that Near didn't understand the word; his tone suggested he found it distasteful. Matt winced a little, embarrassed. This was a lot like some of his computer games, and it did sound stupid when he thought about it. "Yeah… it's like a first person shooter… with dice. Um, let's skip this one."
The next box in the pile looked more promising. It looked more like a regular kind of RPG instead of instead of a FPS knock-off… except it was in German. Matt knew a little German, but not enough to read game instructions. Next in line was a deck of cards, each one with a cartoon drawn on instead of numbers and suits. The title on the box was Munchkin. He was reading the instructions – this one seemed like the best option so far – when Near spoke up.
"What about this one?"
Matt looked. Near was holding another book, this one mercifully thinner than the first one Matt picked, and was reading it with apparent interest. The redhead looked at the cover and laughed.
"Fairy Meat? You serious?"
Near raised his gaze from the book, eyes as solemn as ever. "The story seems interesting, the rules are simple, and our environment is used as the playing space."
Matt took the book from Near and looked it over. On the cover was a depiction of, yes, a fairy, sitting on a mushroom, antennae and wings all in place like a normal fairy. However, it was also eating the severed arm of another fairy. The inside of the manual also had illustrations to compliment the back-story and instructions: more fairies in war paint, fighting each other with very un-fairylike weapons, fighting over various body parts of other fairies, or eating said parts. It was like reading a cross between Brian Froud and Dawn of the Dead. He flipped to the back where character stats and abilities were listed. The weapons were… inventive. There was a section on the kinds of fairy you could play as well, ranging from mildly tweaked to seriously schizophrenic.
Twinkle points? Matt thought, coming to the part on how to cast spells. This game has cannibalism as the main goal and twinklepoints? Who the hell used to play this game?
Near was still watching him when he put the book down. "You sure you want to play this one?"
Near shrugged. "It was Matt's idea that we play a game, I merely suggest one that offers the greatest probability of enjoyment for both of us."
Matt raised an eyebrow at the last part of that statement but didn't comment. It certainly looked quick and violent, which would hold Matt's interest, and from the looks of it, the room being played in really was used as the 'board', so Near would probably like setting that up. He shrugged as well. "Okay. You wanna get the room ready while I put the playing pieces together?"
The boys spent the rest of the day playing in the attic. Near ended up bringing a large assortment of his toys to use as terrain or – in some cases – victims for their fairy hordes. It was a little strange at first for Matt, who wasn't used to playing without a controller, or to seeing Near participating in anything more energetic than setting up a domino mosaic. If Matt didn't think it so unlikely, he might have even said Near was enjoying the game rather than just humoring him. He certainly got the hang of the game strategies quickly, which wasn't a surprise, and took out two of Matt's hunting parties before Matt managed to take one of his.
When it became too dark to see, the boys packed away the games back into their dusty storage boxes. "Hey Near," Matt said after shoving the last box back into place. "Thanks for hanging out with me today. It was fun."
Near got up from his place on the floor, arms loaded with toys and stuffed animals. "No thanks are necessary," he said blandly. "I found today's activities to be interesting, an agreeable change from the normal routine."
Matt grinned. That was probably as close as the albino ever got to saying, 'Thanks, I had fun too.' Eh, he'd take it. At least they hadn't each spent the day alone. "When I get my videogames back, you'll have to try them out, too. I've got a couple puzzle games you might like."
The albino was silent, thinking over the invitation carefully before nodding slowly. "Yes. I think that would be agreeable."
"Cool, it's a date."
Near blinked, but didn't respond. With all of the games put away, they made their way back downstairs. On the second floor Near turned off to put his toys back in his room, while Matt continued on to his own. Well, it had been a more interesting day than he thought it would be, videogames or not. He had never hung out with Near before, despite living in the same building with him for years. He was always so reclusive it was almost impossible to get a read off of him. Plus, Mello hated him, and it made it awkward to talk to someone your best friend detested. Well, he'd just make sure Mello remained in the dark about what he'd been doing today. It'd be better to just keep him ignorant than try and calm him down later.
When dinnertime came around and Matt took his usual place at the table in the mess hall, Mello had already gotten back and was waiting for him, looking very pleased with himself. He grinned at Matt as he sat down with his tray. "The sale was awesome, Matt! You should've come with."
Matt rolled his eyes behind his goggles. He remembered now, Mello had gone to one of the sweet shops in town that had marked down – among other things – chocolate. "Candy's not really my thing, Mel. You know that."
Mello snagged Matt's brownie off his tray in response. "Better than hanging around here all day with nothing to do."
"And whose fault was that?" Matt snapped with a scowl. He reached over and grabbed Mello's small bag of chips. This was their normal routine at mealtimes, they would 'trade' sweet foods for salty.
"Yours," Mello returned easily. "You got caught." He ignored the redhead's disgusted grunt. "So did the day suck with no games to take it up?"
Matt flicked his gaze over at Near, who sat by himself as always, picking at his food disinterestedly. "No," he said with a little smile. "Not really."
A/N2: Cute, no? There could be a continuation for this… later. After some other things. But let me know what you thought so far! (Did anybody catch the little Beyond Birthday reference?)